Might and Magic III: Isles of Terra (Sniper)
Format: Super CD-ROMĀ²
Genre: CRPG
Developer: New World Computing
Publisher: Hudson Soft

Played entirely from the first-person, M&M III has some wonderful artwork, ranging from lush forests to grassy plains to eery, torch-lit dungeons. Each enemy has several sprites, which are swapped depending on how close the monster is to you. The towns are done in a surreal, almost art-deco style, and although they feel strangely empty, their aesthetic makes for a nice contrast with the rest of the game's world.

M&M III originated as a DOS game, and then was ported to many different platforms, the versions for which all featured a variety of utterly forgettable, generic fantasy music. The PC Engine port, however, uses Red Book rock/funk fusion, and it fits the game's abstract-feeling world perfectly! Like all Duo games, chip tune songs are used in spots, and, as is always the case, the contrast creates an amazing effect. Sound effects all use the sound chip, and do a good job of representing the various game events.

Good game design involves teaching the player, so that the player learns the game world in a predictable way, with an even ramp in difficulty. M&M III, on the other hand, resorts to truly bizarre, esoteric trial and error. The user interface is abolutely terrible, containing menu after menu of slowly scrolling lists of things, to the point where getting new loot feels like a bad thing, since it's so cumbersome to sort and equip it all. On a more positive note, the game world and dungeons are well laid out, and there is a lot of ground to explore.

Touch a shiny object in a tree, and it breaks all of your characters' armor. Open a chest, and it electrocutes your party dead. Open a door in a so-far easy dungeon, and get swamped by a dozen enemies that are ten times more powerful. M&M III gets a little easier once the player can cure disease and poison, and can traverse water, mountains, and forests. But its "this makes zero sense" design is very poor. And when combined with the game's positively horrible user interface, and the fact that the game's single save takes up the entire Turbo Duo SRAM space, M&M III makes for a frustrating experience that even the game's amazing aesthetic can't save.

Sniper's verdict: